Scott Tinkler: The Massacre of the Ego, The Garden of Forking Paths, Backwards & Lost Thoughts

Kurt Gottschalk By

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The Antripodean Collective
The Massacre of the Egos

Marc Hannaford with Scott Tinkler, Ken Edie & Philip Rex
The Garden of Forking Paths

Scott Tinkler

Scott Tinkler / Simon Barker
Lost Thoughts

The Australian label Extreme is best known for releasing the sorts of music its name suggests, from a 50-disc set by Japanese noise artist Merzbow to the Islamic sound sculpture of Muslimgauze and the dust-bowl collages of Christian Kiefer, as well as works by Jim O'Rourke, Elliott Sharp and Otomo Yoshihide. But in 2007, just past the label's 20th anniversary, director Roger Richards decided to make a move into more jazz-leaning worlds, documenting Australia's acoustic improv scene.

But more than just recording, Rogers is actively curating the releases in the label's "Antripodean" series, combining musicians who may not have worked together to create in the studio. Trumpeter Scott Tinkler has been at the center of the project, appearing on all of the first three releases in the series. Tinkler's career has been divided between Melbourne and Sydney and outside of Australia he has worked with Joe Lovano, Betty Carter, Branford Marsalis, Han Bennink, Billy Harper, Arthur Blythe and others. On record, he's a true explorer of his instrument, playing both inside and outside the box and, like his Antripodean associates, understands submerging into group dynamics. The Massacre of the Egos (Extreme, 2008) and The Garden of Forking Paths (Extreme, 2007) both excel at collective improvisation. Massacre features a quintet of piano, bass, drum and violin with Tinkler's trumpet, but never comes off as a horn-out-front session. And while three of the eight pieces on Garden are credited to bandleader and pianist Mark Hannaford, the session—which flows easily from various trios to the full trumpet/piano/bass/drum quartet—carries the feeling of spontaneous discovery. The two discs share the rhythm section of bassist Philip Rex and drummer Ken Edie and both rely on the organic development of mood and gesture over statements of themes and swapped solos, and both succeed for it.

Tinkler also recorded the strong solo set Backwards (Extreme, 2007) for the label. In a sense, hearing him alone gives a better understanding of his approach to working in groups. Here his band is simply the room and he finds natural reverberations and acoustic dynamics to work with, leaving silence for the room to be heard much like he does not step on fellow musicians. While he shows a strong technique, his chops aren't the point of the record. Instead, it is, trite though the phrase may be, a sonic journey, a movement through various aspects of his horn. That level of awareness is also what makes Lost Thoughts (Kimnara, 2008), Tinkler's duo with Simon Barker, come off as a full band. Where a trumpet/drum duet could be full of attack and bombast, Tinkler and Barker play with subtlety and variance. The pair move through dynamics and moods, through complement and counterpoint, with a shared consciousness—a quality that seems to hold through all of Tinkler's recent recordings. Taken together, they give a strong indication that something little heard outside their homeland has been happening in Oz.

Tracks and Personnel

The Massacre of the Egos

Tracks: A Strange State of Minds; The Totally Unconscious; The Very Conscious; The Need To Have the Last Say; Conference Of the Baboons; The Massacre Of the Egos; The External Struggle.

Personnel: Paul Grabowsky: piano and prepared piano; John Rodgers: violin; Scott Tinkler: trumpet; Philip Rex: double bass; Ken Edie: drums.

The Garden of Forking Paths

Tracks: Sauna Twins; B.E.B.; Pure Evil; All Booze; I'll Go Down; Head Check; 222 1/2; What was that?.

Personnel: Marc Hannaford: piano; Scott Tinkler: trumpet; Ken Edie: drums; Philip Rex: double bass.


Tracks: Duet for Fingers and Bell End; Crank; Let; Slam it down Fast to be a Solo Man; Intercontinental Trumpet Fantasy; Grand Casa; The New Forwards; String Theory.

Personnel: Scott Tinkler: trumpet.

Lost Thoughts

Tracks: Imagined Heritage; TK; Lost Thoughts; Glowing; Without Reproach; Floral Arrangement; Diminished Capacity; Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Personnel: Scott Tinkler: trumpet; Simon Barker: drums.

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